The moment the world has been waiting for is here! Palace announces that Kate has gone into hospital this morning to give birth to an heir to the throne.
Kate and William like to do things their way, and the birth of their first child is proving, so far, to be no exception.
With no fanfare, no sirens and no police outriders, a dark Range Rover and a shiny new Audi nosed their way calmly through the traffic-free streets of London shortly after dawn this morning, covering the one and a half miles from Kensington Palace to the private Lindo Wing of St Mary's hospital in a couple of minutes.
Seated inside the cars were Kate Middleton, who was in the very early stages of labor, and her husband Prince William, who has been by her side all week as the royal couple have played cat and mouse with the press, successfully staying out of view as they moved from Kate's parents home in Berkshire to Kensington Palace.
The photographers, cameramen and news reporters who have been staking out positions outside the hospital for the past three weeks were all either asleep in their nearby hotel rooms or bleary in the early hours, and just one freelance snapper was alert enough to photograph the royal cars as they rolled up to a back entrance of the hospital.
Firefighters rushed to free a trapped dog, which may have been Lupo, at Kate's family home
Update Saturday 12:47 GMT: The dog was not Lupo, says the palace. Case closed.
This is not the royal drama we had been expecting, but crazy reports are filtering out of Kate Middleton’s family home, Bucklebury Manor, after a dog, which might just have been her pet cocker spaniel Lupo, got its head stuck in a gate.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, five firefighters from nearby Newbury and an animal rescue unit from Reading were summoned to the Middleton family's sprawling residence after a call was made to the headquarters of the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service in Reading at 5.47pm.
Mark Cuthbert/UK Press, via Getty
Valentine Low, royal reporter for the Times, makes his own news
It’s getting harder for Britain’s patriotic corps of Royal reporters to maintain a cheerful façade after almost three weeks baking in a record London heatwave outside a hospital, but Valentine Low, royal reporter for the London Times has found a way.
Quoting the great newspaper film Ace In The Hole, in which Kirk Douglas plays a reporter trying to get a job on a small-town paper and tells the editor: “I can handle big news and little news. And if there’s no news, I’ll go out and bite a dog,” mr Low Joked that he had "bit a dog".
The reporter, in a homage to Bob Dylan's Subterranean Blues, stood in front of the live stream cameras yesterday and recorded The Babycam Blues, which we present below for your enjoyment.
Could the royal baby be far from due yet? It's a possibility, after a report of Kate's mum saying the baby would be born under the sign of Leo resurfaced
It will not be the news that the journalists and cameramen baking outside the Lindo Wing in London’s longest heatwave in a decade want to hear – Kate’s own mother thinks she may not be due until July 23rd or 24th.
Working on her tan: News Anchor with NBC Natalie Morales knits to pass the time outside the Lindo wing of St Mary's Hospital (Chris Jackson / Getty Images)
For, in a little noticed report published in the Sunday Telegraph earlier this year, at the end of May, the impeccably sourced diarist Richard Eden wrote, as a footnote to a piece about how Kate’s mother Carole had returned a lost dog to its owner, that the future queen mother, “had told friends that the baby will be a Leo. The dates for the star sign, whose characteristics include loyalty and ambition, are July 24 to Aug 23.”
In fact, astrologists are equally divided as to whether the sign of Leo starts on July 23 or July 24.
Charles's Duchy of Cornwall estate accused of tax avoidance
Prince Charles has been accused by of paying less tax than his domestic servants by British MPs sitting on a parliamentary spending watchdog who grilled the Prince’s staff over his finances.
Labour’s Austin Mitchell said: “In the figures published it appears that Prince Charles’ direct tax plus indirect tax is 24 per cent of his income for 2012 and 23.6 per cent for 2013. It looks to me that Prince Charles pays a smaller proportion in tax than any of his domestic servants.”
But the Prince’s private secretary, William Nye, said: “He pays income tax on his income after relevant business expenses.”
Chris Jackson / Getty Images
So Kate’s sister can’t take a little mockery? Tom Sykes reports on Middleton’s legal bid to shut down the @Pippatips Twitter feed, a sendup of her ridiculous book of party tips.
PippaTip #1: If people are making fun of you, sue!
Disturbing evidence reaches us that Pippa Middleton actually may be as foolish as her book and other writings have sometimes suggested.
In an extraordinarily ill-judged move, Miss Middleton Jr. has launched legal action against the creators of the spoof Twitter account @Pippatips, who also have written a book off the back of their 50,000-follower Twitter hit.
There was no way Kate was having a baby this weekend. Pippa was out of town.
Inviting Pippa Middleton to your wedding is always a risky business, as her sister found out.
The little minx has a gift for upstaging brides on their big day.
But Pippa Middleton joined the fashion pack this weekend for the wedding of Caroline Sieber and Fritz von Westenholz in Vienna, leading one to suspect that the whole Daily Mail July 13th thing nothing more than a duff tip.
It certainly looks increasingly that way, what with William scheduled into not one but two polo matches over the weekend as well.
Charlene calls reports she tried to flee Monaco 'categorical lies'
Princess Charlene of Monaco has said, in an interview with the London Times, that reports of her attempting to flee the principality before her wedding were 'categorical lies'.
Chris Jackson / Getty Images
Earlier this year, the Times was forced to publish an apology and retracted a story they had run which repeated the claims, first made in a French newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche, which claimed that the distraught bride-to-be had sought refuge at the South African embassy in Paris, and that less than a week before the wedding, she was stopped from boarding a helicopter as officials coerced her to stay.
Pictures of her weeping during the marriage ceremony, and an awkward-lloking kiss, fanned the flames of the fire.
What will Kate and William name the royal tot?
What will the royal baby be called?
Royal baby names have always been an object of fascination, and guessing the name of the forthcoming Windsor tot has turned into Britain's most compelling parlour game with which the nation is collectively whiling away the last few days of Kate's pregnancy before the birth, expected any day now.
The bookies are still favouring a female baby with the hot favourite name now Alexandra, at 11/8 (meaning if you put on £8 you would get £11 back). Then it's Charlotte at 6/1 (put on £1 and get £6 back) followed by Victoria and Elizabeth (both at 7/1) then Diana (8/1).
Chris Jackson / Getty Images
Man remains in a serious condition, police say
A worker at the Queen's Norfolk estate, Sandringham, is in a critical condition in hospital today after falling off a ride-on mower and being trapped underwater at the estate.
Norfolk police today told the Daily Beast that the man is still in a critical condition. He was "underwater for a number of minutes" and the accident is being investigated by the Police and the Health and Safety Executive, police said.
Indigo / Getty Images
The accident happened at about 1:30pm, just hours after the Queen had held a garden reception for fellow corgi owners.
Pippa is facing renewed pressure from the palace to quieten down and behave like a good girl. They could be in for one hell of a fight, says Tom Sykes
What are the Royals going to do about Miss Philippa Middleton?
Ever since the fateful day when she walked down the aisle behind her big sister, Kate, and comprehensively stole the limelight at the wedding of the century, Pippa has been an object of fascination.
But she occupies an odd space in the national conversation about the British Royal Family, as no one, least of all herself, seems to have the faintest idea what her role is.
A few decades ago, the fate of a pretty sister-in-law of the future king would have been fairly simple—marry a rich earl and spend the rest of her days hosting shooting parties.
Zara is expecting
No, it's not naughty Prince Harry.
But there is to be another royal baby next year, as Buckingham Palace announced today that Zara Philips is due to give birth in the new year.
The palace issued a statement this morning, using Zara's married name, reading:
"Mr and Mrs Mike Tindall are very pleased to announce that Zara Tindall is expecting a baby in the New Year.
Are Pippa and Nico next to walk down the aisle?
Pippa Middleton and her new boyfriend, Nico Jackson, are planning to get engaged as soon as Britain’s royal baby mania has abated, according to reports.
The Mail on Sunday quotes a friend as saying:
"An engagement is definitely on the cards. The last time Nico spoke about Pippa to his friends back home in Folkestone, he was totally buzzing about her. He is in his element right now.
Does anyone else feel Pippa Middleton's profile quietly sneaking back up again? Well, William and Kate obviously do, and now, the younger sister of the future Queen has once again been told to tone it down by the palace.
Pippa Middleton has been quietly asked by Kate and Prince William to scale back her public appearances, according to a report in The Mail.
Pippa and James Middleton watch a Wimbledon men's singles match. (Clive Brunskill / Getty Images)
Pippa has started writing for The Spectator, is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, and has a monthly column in Waitrose Food Illustrated.
Prince Harry’s girlfriend is the opposite of Kate Middleton in every way. Tom Sykes examines the evidence: a pair of Doc Martens, some dungarees, and that infamous scrunchie.